Welcoming a baby into the world can feel like an overwhelming challenge! To prepare myself for parenthood, as well as minimise any personal stress, I signed up for the Antenatal Care & Parentcraft Programme at NUH. I’m so glad I did. The lovely teachers and practical information has made me feel more confident about what to expect. The programme is open to all expectant parents in Singapore, whether or not you intend to deliver at NUH.
In a previous post, I discussed public and private hospitals in Singapore. I have chosen to deliver at NUH because they focus on facilitating natural childbirth (where possible) and breastfeeding. One of the ways they do this is through education. There is so much information about childbirth on the internet, not to mention well-meaning advice from family, friends and even random strangers. It can be hard to weed out the facts from the old wives tales. When you know what to expect and what is considered “normal” then you are better equipped to make the right decision. You also know when to seek help.
A few fun facts
Before I dive into the program details and costs, here are a few fun facts I discovered during the course.
- Being pregnant does not entitle you to “eat for two”. It is best to eat 5-6 light meals a day rather than 3 large plates
- Not everyone’s water breaks. Even if it does, it is rarely a gush of water like in the movies
- You should only “push” during active labour. Pushing too early will tire you out and delay delivery!
- You are allowed to bring your own music to the hospital during labour. In fact, it is even encouraged to aid relaxation
- Pelvic exercises (i.e. kegels) are a must if you want to maintain bladder control after a natural delivery. To get your pelvis “back to normal” you should aim to do 300 kegels a day for 2-3 months post-delivery.
- Babies will have some umbilical cord in-tact for up to 10 days after their birth and you need to clean it properly to avoid infection
- Babies only need to be swaddled for sleeping during the first 1-2 months
The Antenatal Care & Parentcraft Programme at NUH is much more than just another Lamaze class. It is comprised of seven weekly lessons covering everything from pregnancy symptoms through to preparing for labour and caring for your newborn. The classes are as follows:
Overview of what medical appointments and scans to expect during each trimester. Information on body and hormonal changes as well as how to eat and sleep well during pregnancy.
The Labour Experience
Detailed information about each stage of labour, what happens during a natural delivery and c-section, and discussion of pain relief. Information on what partners can do to support labour.
Physiotherapy Sessions I & II
How to physically prepare your body for labour, tips and tricks for easier delivery, pelvic strengthening techniques and postpartum exercises.
Crash-course in breastfeeding including benefits for mother and child, and when/how to approach bottle feeding. Recommendations on what to purchase to prepare for both breast and bottle feeding.
Postnatal Care and Adjustment to Parenthood
Advice on how to recover from natural delivery (including episiotomy) and c-section. Essential buys and how to prepare your home for your newborn. Demonstrations on how to bathe a baby and change a nappy.
This final class is scheduled 2 weeks after you give birth. You bring your baby to class and learn how to handle and massage them.
Best suited for first-time parents
The classes occur weekly except for the baby massage lesson, which you schedule once you have given birth. Every class lasts two hours and partners are encouraged to join.
The programme is most suited to first-time parents. If you’ve done this before then some of the information will seem rather basic. For example, how to feed and bathe a baby. In the programme cohort I joined, we were seven couples in total. All of us bombarded the teachers with lots of questions. It was a safe space to ask anything including how to handle annoying in-laws!
The programme is facilitated by three teachers who run the different classes. The main teacher is a midwife who has worked with NUH for almost twenty years. There is also a qualified psychotherapist and former nurse, and a lactation specialist. All teachers were informative, patient and approachable.
Programme costs and logistics
The programme at NUH costs $256.80 (incl. GST). This covers attendance for two people, so you can bring along your partner or even a family member or close friend. You also receive a goodie bag that contains baby product samples.
Classes run every Saturday at 9am, 11.30am and 2pm, as well as Wednesday at 6pm at the NUH Tower near Kent Ridge MRT station.
In pre-COVID19 times the classes also included a tour of the delivery suite at NUH. Hospital tours have now been suspended indefinitely. Classes were also suspended for most of 2020 and only resumed in September. Currently, NUH are monitoring the situation and deciding whether to continue with the in-person lessons or change everything to virtual learning.
In my opinion, you cannot beat in-person classes. A lot of the information we learned could readily be found online. But dedicating two-hours a week to focus on a different topic, interact with other expectant parents, and have the chance to ask questions without online distractions was invaluable. I highly recommend the experience and I hope NUH continue to offer this wonderful programme.
It is best to sign-up during second trimester or early into the third trimester. You don’t want to forget all the delivery tips by doing the course too early! But just in case, they do give you a booklet with all the information covered which you can also read again at your own leisure.
In conclusion, I would also like to share some of the old wives tales which were well and truly dispelled during the programme.
- New mums should not bathe and wash their hair for a month after delivery. WRONG! It is good to maintain personal hygiene and shower. However, avoid swimming or public baths since there is a big raw wound inside the uterus susceptible to infection
- Avoid exercise during pregnancy. This is a big NO-NO! Staying fit will reduce digestive problems and help you return to pre-pregnancy weight and flexibility quicker
- Pineapple triggers early contractions. NO WAY! Dehydration is more likely to cause early labour so drink plenty of water if you want to last until 40 weeks
- Eating “cooling” foods such as papaya, pineapple, grass jelly and green bananas DOES NOT lead to miscarriages
Antenatal Care & Parentcraft Programme
Phone: 6772 2255 / 2277